Extraterrestrial intentions

Even though water is one of our most valuable natural resources, it’s not really treated accordingly. Most apartment-living Scandinavians pay a predetermined water bill and go about their shower and washing habits without consideration or reflection. Traditional showers use up to ten liters of water per minute, which means that a ten-minute shower could use 100 liters of water. 

Enter Mehrdad Mahdjoubi. Back in 2012, the then 22-year-old Swede came up with a way to make shower water reusable. The idea arose out of an internship at NASA where Mahdjoubi worked on the Mars Mission project. Water is hard to come by in space and on Mars, so he thought of the idea of reusable water — using a revolutionary water cleaning system that cleans the dirty water while you shower. The shower system uses 90% less water and 80% less energy to heat the water. A 15-minute shower only uses around five liters of water in the Oas shower thanks to its smart recirculating shower system.

”It’s when you are faced with extreme challenges and environments that you need to push yourself harder to come up with revolutionary solutions”

How did you land a job at NASA, the dream job of every kid ever?

— I got in contact with NASA via Lund University. They have a longtime academic collaboration with the design faculty at LU. NASA is continuously seeking outside designers who can provide creative solutions to the challenges of colonizing Mars. It’s when you are faced with extreme challenges and environments that you need to push yourself harder to come up with revolutionary solutions.  

It’s been eight years since you started. Do you feel like you timed the sustainability movement?

— For every year, since I founded the company in 2012, global awareness around climate change has increased. For us, it’s more important to focus on delivering a real solution, than talking about the problem. With that said, the more people are aware of the problem, the more relevant we become.

Forbes called your invention ”the Tesla of showers”. How do you think the product will do in the private sector?

— This is the beginning of a paradigm shift of how we use water in our homes. Who doesn’t want to shower in cleaner water with higher flow and precisely controlled temperature, while at the same time saving 90% of the water and energy? 

Personally, and for the company, is anything exciting happening in the future?

— I think the most exciting thing is to bring this technology to a broader audience and thereby creating a real impact. We’ve been very successful in the commercial sector but the real impact is created at the individual household level. 2020 is an important year for us, we are launching our consumer sales platform, starting in Northern Europe. 


The Future of Beauty panel

Johan Hellström, Owner, Björn Axén. 
Kicki Norman, Editor-in-Chief and Founder, Daisy Beauty. 
Roger Dupé, Founder, Melyon. 


Airinum and Bally launch face mask to preserve alpine environments

The mountains cover 25% of the world’s land surface and supplying fresh water for 12% of the human population. Yet, they’re often overlooked, and care is needed, as they face the adverse effects of global warming and excessive outdoor tourism. To highlight the cause, Bally created The Bally Peak Outlook capsule collection with 37 eco-friendly products inspired by the outdoors, raising funds to safeguard the world’s fragile mountain environments.

Airinum was founded in 2015 to combat climate change’s impact on human health with forward-thinking products to breathe clean air. Their collab drop, Bally x Airinum Urban Air Mask, launches today, including a campaign captured by environmental activist and renowned Swiss artist Michel Comte.

— Together we help raise awareness about the importance of mountain environments, fund critical cleanup expeditions, and support future preservation efforts that safeguard alpine environments around the world. All profits are donated to this cause, says Fredrik Kempe, CMO and co-founder of Airinum.


Fashionable intelligence

What does “responsible AI” mean?

— Like all technology, AI can be used for good or bad purposes. I think most companies want to do good. But the tricky thing is that even if you have the best intentions, things can still go wrong, as you’re outsourcing decision making to an algorithm that you can’t fully control. Most AI today is based on machine learning, using historical data to learn, and there can be a lot of bias in that data. ai systems have a tendency to reproduce and amplify existing prejudice and inequalities in ­society — if not handled properly.

— One concrete example; if you use AI in recruitment to scan through CV:s, and you operate in a male dominated industry, the ai system might then deselect women as potential recruits because of how it looks for patterns in historical data.

What kind of bias could you have at H&M?

— We use ai throughout our value chain for aligning supply and demand, to predict what our customers want and love and what we should produce. We look at historical data to predict the future. There isn’t very high risk for bias, but my work is a lot about preparing for a future where we could use AI for other purposes.

”Although tech companies have worked on ethical AI for quite some time, I haven’t seen many examples from the fashion industry.”

What kind of future risks are you mitigating?

— For example, with personalisation, do we want to recommend all types of products to all customers? There is a level of sensitivity in that. But responsible AI is not only about mitigating risks, for us it’s also about using ai as a tool to reach our sustainability goals. If we can better align supply and demand, we can have less transport, less warehousing, and less co2 emissions.

Is this a top secret department of H&M Group and how much do you interact with industry colleagues?

— No, transparency is very important, we collaborate a lot internally and with external partners. However, there are not many industry colleagues as it’s still a quite new area. Although tech companies have worked on ethical AI for quite some time, I haven’t seen many examples from the fashion industry.

For the sake of the readers who might not know what AI is — could you explain the basics?

— The very short answer is, it’s all about pattern recognition. Tasks that computer systems perform that normally require human intelligence. ai today mostly always means machine learning, which is computer systems that learn by themselves; they learn by interacting with the world or analysing historical data. Deep learning is the most fascinating, the most powerful form of machine learning, imitating how neurons in the human brain process information.

From your perspective, have you seen examples where one has mimicked human intelligence?

— I think we’re pretty far away from general intelligence, which is the target state. But there are definitely some mind-blowing examples out there, like the language model GPT-3, which generates very realistic text. As a writer and former journalist, I find this development extremely fascinating, and at the same time frightening. It could have huge implications on news, fake news, content and media in the coming years.

The futurist Ray Kurzweil predicts we will reach general artificial intelligence in 2030, do you agree?

— I can see hints of it with ­GPT-3, it generalises quite well between different tasks. The basic principles are there, I think, but of course it’s impossible to say when and if we will reach it. 

Do you want us to reach it?

— From a curiosity perspective, yes, but from a real world perspective I’m not so sure. It depends on what goals this general ai would have. If it would treat us humans like ants, not understanding our needs. It could be dangerous.

Coming back to the transformation, what does it mean to you?

 — Talking specifically about AI, I believe this technology has a huge transformative power, comparable to how the internet has changed the world, or maybe even beyond that. But our conversation in society around ai is still very immature. Powerful and immature — that’s an explosive cocktail. I keep reminding myself that ai may be powerful, but it is not a force of its own (at least not yet…). It is we, humans, who are steering and driving the development of AI. And we have a shared responsibility in getting it right. That’s why we need to include as many as possible in the conversation about how we want to live with AI. So that we can use this transformative power as a force for good. 


Maximilian Missoni (Polestar) on the future of electric mobility


The New Sustainable Consumer Panel

Jessica Cederberg Wodmar, Global Sustainability Director at GANT
Johan Graffner, founder of Dedicated Brand
Dorothee Sarah Spehar, founder of DS AGENCY

The talk was moderated by our editor-at-large Fredrik Ekström. 


”We will take more care of our cities in the future, not just exploit them”

Based in Oslo, Vésma Kontere McQuillan is an architect, writer, and editor as well as Professor at the Kristiania University College, where she also chairs ArchCommLAB research group. The group’s also publishing a webzine, Nofilter. Space, where she’s the Editor-in-chief, which is produced by faculty and students in interaction with external collaborators. It explores a new typology of spaces emerging in the cross-section where architecture, fashion, and design meet contemporary visual media platforms, such as Instagram. It’s comprised of academic articles, student and alumni projects, and reportage and published continuously.

While working on her main research project, a case study OMA/AMO x Prada, Kontere McQuillan realized that architectural writing lacked the theoretical framework to analyze fashion shows. So, she initiated the recently launched book project Fashion spaces: A Theoretical View. 

— This is the first attempt to create a ”state of–the–art” textbook for fashion spaces in the context of architectural social science, relevant both for architects and fashion designers.

The result is a new type of book that Kontere McQuillan calls academic coffee–table book.

— The content is theoretical, she tells, but visuals have a look of a professional commercial fashion/design magazine. Following an introductory academic essay by me and my colleague Kjeld Hansen, which tackles research problematics in the field and presents a conceptual model for further research, there are seven case studies developed by students to explore possible applications of this model. Besides, the book features fashion shows by Prada and Gosha Rubcinskiy. I see it as the future of publishing within the intersection of architectural and fashion domains.

What do you think about the future of retail and fashion spaces?

— Even if the pandemic’s global impact has become clear for now, as did its implications for all industries and all areas of our lives, I must say the future course remains uncertain, and its true meanings are yet to be understood. Much of the fashion industry has already moved online. The development of virtual spaces is accelerating, requiring innovative social media strategies and a strong focus on consumer interaction. At the same time, this movement to digital was very much mandatory. There was no choice, so there will be a backlash of people getting tired of digital realities at some point.

You mention social media, how has and will those change the conditions?

— The book describes social media’s impact and its strategies through case studies critical to modern fashion history: From the first use of Twitter by Lady Gaga to give colossal publicity to the live-stream fashion show of McQueen’s ”Plato’s Atlantis” SS210 until Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 6 presentation utilizing an entirely new format feed by reality TV. There are no fashion shows without social media for now, but it might change while looking for new exclusivity in the post-covid future. 

What’s typical for fashion spaces in Scandinavia compared to the rest of the world?

— I would say it’s a strong focus on circular product strategies and sustainability as backbone concepts. The fashion industry is currently going through a significant change in its approach towards sustainability, aiming to transform from a wasteful and polluting sector into a more circular industry. I believe Scandinavian brands are pioneering both fashion and spatial production.

What will our cities and city centers look like in the future?

— First, there is a need to reconfigured architectural solutions — both physical and digital — and develop processes or guidelines for a circular and sustainable future for retail and fashion spaces that are a big part of city centers. Right now, we are at the tipping point for many reasons, but this is an opportunity to reimagine our cities the way they should be through the interplay of cross-sectoral and research-based innovation. We will take more care of our cities in the future, not just exploit them.

The book is available via the publisher Frame Publishers’ online store and all big internet booksellers such as amazon.


Bolon launches game-changing VR collection

She describes the new base collection Emerge as anything but basic or traditional.

— We’ve worked hard to find the perfect shades to match the modern needs and the highest quality for the long run. In the VR tool we are launching together with the collection, everyone can see how perfectly this collection appears on a large scale with a strong personality.

The Swedish international design brand produces premium flooring to the contract market worldwide and 95% of the family company’s sales goes on export.

— I think Emerge will become a bestseller very soon, Eklund adds.

Tell us about that new VR platform. How does it work?

— We always strive to try out new things and as VR has been in the loop for some years now, we now found the perfect timing to create a world of design where we could express our identity, not only by showing our flooring. Our products come to life with this tool, as it’s impossible for us to create such a space in reality to show them. VR is already used by architects and we’re happy they can be swept away in a cool fantasy world that also works as a reality tool for them.

How will VR change how you and your customers work?

— VR will hopefully become more user friendly for Mac users, and when that happens, I guess it will explode. In the meantime, we will continue to launch our news in this platform to constantly keep it alive. The tool today consists of an office, hotel, and a museum, where we’ll invite guest artists to exhibit. I believe that we have taken the possibilities to create unexpected but trustworthy happenings within our design community. This is something that feeds us with new energy every day.


”The small, local entrepreneurs really make the city”

As the founder and curator of award-winning concept store and gallery Lokal in the heart of Helsinki, Hagelstam breathes Finnish art and design. Since the opening in 2012, she’s curated close to 60 exhibitions at the gallery and various other locations in Finland and abroad. She enjoys nothing more than to provide a platform for a creative community to flourish, all the while promoting sustainable, ethical, and ecological values within the field.

And, she’s the ultimate social animal.

My favorite thing that makes me proud of Helsinki:
The fact that it has a feeling of a small town where you can reach places easily but at the same time has a big cultural scene and variety.

My favorite weekend routine:
Slow breakfast, walking in the close-by nature, a few exhibitions in town, and a coffee with a friend.

My favorite cultural spot:
Oh, so many, but maybe one could be WG, the Emma Museum, where I love how the contemporary art sits well in the industrial sixties building. It also has a very nice bistro, Luminere.

My favorite place for dining out:
It could be Espa for the interior, food, and site, or Sikke’s for a cozy relaxed feeling.

My favorite place for a creative or business meeting:
Walking is a favourite way to have a meeting, but if seated maybe Wintergarden at St. George.


My favorite breakfast place:
Café Engel. An old classic, which has been there for most of my adult life and never changes. The owners’ presence gives a special welcoming feeling.

My favorite city escape:
Maybe one of the saunas, Kulttuurisauna or Kaurilan.

My favorite local entrepreneur or creative I want to promote:
This is a tricky one, as I wish to promote so many of the small, local ones. They really make the city. In The Design District there are many, as well as in former hospital Lapinlahti

My favorite hotel for a staycation: 
I’ve actually never experienced one, but if I would try now, I guess I would go with Hanasaari.

My favorite route for a run or walk: 
My walks mainly go around the area where I live, Laajasalo. But if in town, then it’s around the shoreline from Kaivopuisto to Katajanokka.

My favorite place for fashion:
Samuji is definitely my favourite. 

My favorite space for great design:
That’s tricky. Unless you don’t count Lokal, of course, then it could be the Oodi library.

My favorite example of tech innovation in Helsinki: 
As I’m not a very tech person, I can’t think of any.

My favorite local media (newspaper/magazine/website/social media account):
I just stumbled on something on Instagram that looks very good and promising, BUM Editions.

My favorite thing at home: 
The big kitchen and round table. Under normal circumstances, this is where we all gather, in smaller or bigger groups, but always an enjoyment.

Oodi library
BUM Edition 1


10 extraordinary tech innovations from CES

Just like many other traditional physical events, the Customer Electronic Show ditched the hands-on practice this year. The Las Vegas fair spaces stood empty, but journalists still had a hectic couple of days of keeping up with the many digital presentations, showrooms and conference talks. Out of the many impressive and fascinating news and gadgets that we stumbled upon, we have cherry-picked the must-haves and can’t-misses for the coming year.

LG’s rollable screen

We’ve seen the rollable TV from LG before, but the South Korean tech giant briefly teased a rollable smartphone/tablet in their official press conference. Perhaps our smartphones will be rolled up and folded up in 2021?

General Motors’ airtaxi concept

The abbreviation of this coming decade is eVTOL (electric vertical takeoff and landing). The air-taxi industry is picking up speed, and with the entrance of mobility powerhouse GM, the process might reach new heights sooner than we think.

YSL’s MUA-bot

Yves Saint Laurent has partnered up with Perso in a new smart lipstick. The sleek container connects to an included app that can analyze your outfit’s colour scheme, and then create the perfect red shade for that specific outfit.

Skagen’s sleek smartwatch

Owning a smartwatch usually comes with one big downside — it doesn’t look very good (or like a classic watch). Danish watchmakers Skagen’s new Jorn Hybrid HR keeps the sleek Danish designs, but still packs some impressive technology assets. Track your sleep, your jog routes, daily steps and heart rate without having to master a small touch screen.

The Gardyn home garden

Vertical farming with a built-in AI gardener? Yes, please. This 150 cm tall indoor garden can host up to 30 different plants, and the AI tells you exactly when, and how, to take care of the plants. You fill the water tank once a month, the home garden does the rest.

Razer’s smart mask

As a sign of the times, one of the most hyped products at CES was Razer’s smart mask. Its built-in mic and speaker get your words out more clearly, and the RBG LED lights up your mouth when it gets darker. We do want it, but let’s hope we won’t find a reason to within the next couple of years.

Chamberlain’s smart dog door

Autonymous and smart garage door developer Chamberlain is a breed apart from its competitors, at least with its latest product in mind. The myQ Pet Portal lets your dog get free access in and out of your house with its smart collar, which notifies the connected app when the dog wants out.

Ampere Shower Power Bluetooth speaker

This smart speaker’s name gives you a hint of what to expect. It’s powered by the running water in your shower, meaning that you can listen to your favourite podcast via Bluetooth without fiddling on your phone with wet fingers, or worrying about battery shortage.

Vaonis’ miniature observatory

The Vespera Observation Station is something of a hybrid between a smart telescope and a camera. The station is 68 cm tall and stands firmly on the removable tripod, which allows it to take magnificent pictures of space. Be ready to up the ante on your wallpaper game.

Samsung’s butler robot

It wouldn’t be CES without a proper smart robot. The Bot Handy uses its arm and hand to pour you a glass of water, open doors and stacking the dishwasher. The video material is too good not to miss out.


Fully-electric cars are now in majority of Norway’s car sales

For the whole year of 2020, the fully battery-powered passenger cars’ share was 54.3 percent of newly registered cars on the Norwegian market. And, the trend also accelerated throughout the year, with two out of three cars — 66.7 percent — sold in December were electric. That’s compared with 42.4 percent in 2019, according to figures from trade association OFV, and means that cars using petrol, diesel, or a hybrid now share a minority of the market.

Buyers of exhaust-free cars in Norway benefit from a lot of things, including lower taxes, in the hope of achieving the goal that sales of fossil cars will have ceased by 2025.

2020’s best-selling car was Audi’s electric model E-tron, which achieved a market share of 6.5 percent, followed by Tesla’s Model 3 and Volkswagen’s ID3, both 5.5 percent.